Gizmo is more droll than likable, but Wedgie is attractively steadfast and amiable, in the end rescuing both Gizmo and the...

WEDGIE & GIZMO

From the Wedgie & Gizmo series , Vol. 1

When families get blended, so do their animals. Gizmo, a genius guinea pig who can read and wears eyeglasses, and Wedgie, a much less intelligent corgi who wears a superhero cape, each alternately relate their interwoven stories in distinct first-pet voices.

Unfortunately for the guinea pig, his owner, Elliot, is forced to let his new, annoying little sister, Jasmine, help take care of Gizmo. Jasmine enjoys dressing him up in tutus and housing him in Barbie’s lavish (pink) former abode. But Gizmo is an intrepid sort of critter with evil plans to rule the world, and he does find Barbie’s rucksack useful for carrying gear as he engages in some nighttime adventures, not all of them successful. Through comments Elliot makes, readers learn of his unhappiness with his new family situation, although this second storyline takes a back seat to Gizmo’s scheming. Acting as his and Elliot’s foil, Wedgie, who calls Gizmo “the Furry Potato,” is convincingly doglike in his eager embrace of just about everything. Fisinger’s numerous illustrations are action-packed and appropriately humorous, especially in their depiction of Wedgie’s never-ending enthusiasm. An opening gallery introduces Jasmine’s family as Latino and Elliot and his father as black. While the tale is never laugh-out-loud funny, it’s amusing and imaginative enough to sustain interest for readers new to chapter books.

Gizmo is more droll than likable, but Wedgie is attractively steadfast and amiable, in the end rescuing both Gizmo and the story. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-244763-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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